Raw Peanut Butter Banana Date Bars {Recipe}

Good Monday morning! Before I do a(nother) catch up post on my life, I absolutely have to share this recipe for some amazing raw energy bars that I made at my friend, Alex’s house the other day. They were not only consumed as my post-dinner snack, but also as part of my breakfast and lunch the following day. And no, there is no such thing as a PB/Banana overload. Ever.

Somehow, we were able to transform this peanut buttery mess…

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Bonus points if you can spot Sarah and me in the reflection of the Juicer!

…into delicious energy squares!

IMG_7082In addition to eating them as a normal snack (or meal, as I seem to have already done), I could definitely see myself bringing one (or more) of these bars in my back pocket during a long bike ride, or throwing them in my squash backpack to eat after a training session.

IMG_7084So, if you are like me and gravitate towards whole-food energy bars, and any sort of combo of peanut butter/banana/chocolate, I highly recommend you whip out a food processor and make these lil nuggets!

Raw Peanut Butter Banana Date Bars

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: none

Yield: ~ 32 squares

Ingredients

  • ~10 medjool dates, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup salted crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 banana
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup crisp rice cereal (I used Special K)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips (depending on how much you like chocolate!)

Directions

  • Combine dates, peanut butter, and banana in food processor, and mix until dates are virtually visually undetectable. Note: If your food processor is small or medium sized, you may want to either halve the recipe, or process the ingredients in two separate batches.
  • Remove blended date/PB/banana paste from food processor and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add remainder of ingredients and mix in by hand to disperse evenly.
  • Transfer entire mixture to a large pan, spread evenly, and flatten.
  • Refrigerate for ~an hour, or until mixture has solidified before cutting into squares. Alternatively, if you are in a time crunch, try putting the bars in the freezer for ~30 minutes, and then cut into squares. Store in fridge.

Alright, it’s time for me to put the peanut butter jar away now (I may or may not have been eating PB out of the jar as I typed up this post), fold some laundry, apply to some more jobs, and get back to studying for NASM! (<- More to come on that soon!)

Have a great Monday!

Warm Winter Squash Kale Panzanella

When I think back to all of the delicious food I ate this 2014 holiday season, one thing stands out in my mind. No, it’s not the Christmas turkey or ham, nor is it the sweet potatoes and stuffing.

It’s a salad!!!!

Okay, before you start making faces at me and turn your nose up in disgust, you’ve really got to take a look at this recipe. I liked it so much, I made it twice more after its original (and thankfully successful) attempt. When I made it for our second Christmas family dinner on the 27th of December, it was the only dish that was polished off! (And to put this in perspective, four days later, we are still working on the leftovers from the dinner). When a few relatives asked for the recipe, and my mom asked me to make it again a couple of nights ago, I knew I had to post the recipe for you all. So, what is this great salad I speak of?!?!?

Friends, I present you with… Warm Winter Squash Kale Panzanella. 

IMG_5827Right now you’re probably thinking: what in the world is Panzanella? Well, I had no idea, but after having found this delicious recipe by Cookies and Kate on Pinterest, I knew I had to give it a shot.

IMG_5828The most unique part about this recipe is the rosemary. Along with the goat cheese, it adds so much flavour to this salad dish! It honestly reminded me of a healthier version of stuffing.

I also loved how easy it was to substitute certain ingredients to make the dish customizable. For example, the first time I made it I used some type of winter squash, the next time a butternut squash, and the final time a sweet potato!

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squash, onions, croutons, seeds

If you’re looking for a hearty, delicious winter salad, you’ve got to try this. My family and I loved it, and if you like kale and balsamic, I have a feeling you’ll love it too!

Warm Winter Kale Panzanella

Adapted from Cookie and Kate’s Balsamic Butternut, Kale and Cranberry Panzanella

Serves 2-4 people, depending on whether served as a side or a main dish, and on how hungry you are!

Ingredients

Cold: Salad

  • 2 large bunches of kale, washed, and torn into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (add this on only at the very, very end)

Hot: Squash, seeds, and croutons

  • ~3 cups winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc will all work), baked until slightly crunchy and cut into approx. 1 inch cubes
  • 2 slices of bread, sliced into bite size pieces (should make about 50 pieces in total, if you slice 5 by 5)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped into long, thin, ~2 inch pieces (not chopped finely)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (a few shakes each)

Dressing (should make ~1/3 cup of dressing)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or honey (I used maple syrup the first time, and actually omitted it the next two times- it works fine without)
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Hot

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Place mostly baked squash, bread, seeds, and onions on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top and toss until all ingredients are evenly coated, and then sprinkle rosemary and salt/pepper.
  • Bake for roughly 10 minutes, before removing from heat to flip ingredients, and baking for another 7-10 minutes or so, until bread is well toasted.
  • When bread is toasted to your liking (and they resemble croutons), remove pan from oven.

Cold

  • While the “hot” items are in the oven, massage kale in small batches. This will make the leaves much less “rough” and will also decrease their volume by a lot. If you need a tutorial on how and why you should massage kale, check out this article by the Huffington Post.
  • Add dried cranberries to the kale. Do NOT add in goat cheese yet!

Dressing

  • In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until thoroughly mixed. You may wish to taste the dressing to make any necessary adjustments to suit your liking. For example, I much prefer balsamic over mustard, so I tend to use more of it.

Assembly (right before serving)

  • In a large salad bowl, combine cold and hot ingredients. Drizzle dressing over salad, and mix well until all leaves are well coated.
  • In an oven or microwave (make sure the bowl is microwave-able safe!), heat salad until lukewarm. This should take about 5-7 minutes in the oven (watch it carefully), and 1-1.5 minutes in the microwave.
  • Remove salad from heat, and crumble goat cheese on top immediately before serving.
  • Serve salad immediately when warm. Enjoy!

Also, it is WEDNESDAY, which means I can also combine this recipe with some awesome What I Ate Wednesday eats! I’m liking up with Jenn for WIAW from Peas and Crayons! Be sure to check out her website for not only her WIAW eats, but also others’!

What I Ate Wednesday

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organic greens, kale, grapes, and feta salad from the Parsonage cafe
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Breakfast sandwich from Parsonage cafe {creamed spinach, egg, tomato, bacon and cheddar on whole wheat bread}
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Coconut flakes, which I turned into coconut CHIPS by baking them!
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Christmas dinner #2: ham, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, broccoli quinoa dish, more sweet potatoes

Happy New Year!

And, last but not least, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all! I hope you all have a fabulous time celebrating, whether you’re staying in, going out, or doing absolutely whatever :) . Here’s to 2015!

Questions:

Do you like kale? Do you cook with it much?

I love love love kale!!! I absolutely adore how robust it its, and how it can withstand dressing without wilting!

Do you know what “panzanella” is? Have you ever made it? 

 

How To Make The Perfect Smoothie

Good morning friends!

Since today is my last day at home, I was really hoping that I would be able to sleep in at least past 8:30 or 9 am. Sadly, this was not the case. I gave up, and instead turned to Pinterest, which kept me entertained until my stomach began to rumble.

Breakfast

On the menu this morning? Chocolate protein smoothie! In the blender went:

  • 1 scoop Vega chocolate protein powder
  • Silk almond coconut milk
  • 0% Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 frozen banana
  • 1 spoonful cocoa powder

I also finished off some yesterday’s leftover Peanut Butter Cup smoothie, and am now crunching on some macadamia nuts while I type up this post!

I’ve been an absolute smoothie fiend since Christmas day. Can you guess why?!

IMG_5872We are now proud owners of a Vitamix!!!!

I have always been a huge smoothie-lover, but this crazy machine makes them infinitely better, and more exciting!

Alright since we’re on the topic of smoothies, and since I’m clearly so, so exited about it, let’s tackle a very serious and important question: How do you make the perfect smoothie?

How To Make The Perfect Smoothie

  • Add fruit (preferably frozen)

I always, always, always put at least one frozen banana in a smoothie. If I don’t , I feel like something’s missing! I also like adding in frozen strawberries or blueberries for more volume and fiber, as well as taste.

  • Add liquid

I’m a huge fan of using milk (either regular or almond milk) as opposed to water or juice, since I prefer creamy smoothies over tangy (or watery) ones.

Image 1A pro to using regular cow’s milk is that you get about 8g of protein per cup, whereas you only get ~1g by using almond milk. However, cow’s milk has roughly 100 calories per 1 cup serving, whereas unsweetened almond milk only has 35-40! For me it comes down to convenience. If I have almond milk on hand, I’ll usually use it because I can’t taste the difference in a smoothie, but if I’m drinking it straight, I’d rather enjoy a glass of regular milk.

  • Add protein

My favourite protein options are Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and protein powder.

Image 38Usually I will put in either Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, and I always put in protein powder. By doing so, not only do I get protein from both, but I also get extra creaminess from the yogurt/cottage cheese, and great taste from the powder!

  • Add (healthy) fat

When I want to kick up the richness of a smoothie, I tend to gravitate towards nut butters. I love adding peanut butter (duh) or cashew butter to a smoothie to make it more satisfying and taste a little more like ice cream!

Image 10I’ve also found that avocado is delicious in smoothies, so if you’re allergic to nuts (or love avocado), I highly recommend trying this fruit!

  • Optional: Add spinach!

I add spinach to my smoothies whenever I can, because I get a huge kick out of sneaking vegetables into dishes! Eating spinach that tastes like chocolate? Sign me up!

IMG_5833Yes, it tends to give a slightly (or not so slight) green hue, but if you can get past that, you’re on your way to health-guru stardom! I promise you can’t taste it at all, and if your blender is at all competent, it will grind the leaves such that they are completely undetectable.

Dang, after all that I’m now feeling like I should go make another smoothie for lunch! Well, in about 4 hours when this smoothie-rock finally digests… :)

Have a great rest of your Tuesday!

Questions:

How do you make your smoothies? Do you have any smoothie tips?

What’s your favourite smoothie flavour? 

 

 

Balsamic Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I’ve always been one of those kids (am I still a kid?!?) that has loved Brussels Sprouts. While all my friends shoved their sprouts to the sides of their plates, I was overjoyed and genuinely looked forward to eating the miniature cabbages! Of course, I had to keep my Brussels sprouts opinions to myself, because, hey, which second-grader wants to be friends with someone who likes ugly mini green vegetables? (Kidding- kids weren’t that mean and judgemental back in the day).

IMG_5764In any case, I still adore the lovely sprouts today, and am not afraid to say it :D ! In fact, whenever I go to a restaurant, I tend to gravitate towards the dishes that have Brussels sprouts as sides. When I was in Florida over Thanksgiving, I tried some sprouts that were absolutely to die for. I’m talking sweet yet tangy, and unbelievably flavourful. So, when my mom bought a huge stalk of sprouts on Saturday, I knew we would have to get creative in the kitchen!

IMG_5766After some researching on the internet, I eventually came up with a recipe for Balsamic Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts. The little veggies were super easy to make, and they were a big hit (at least in my family!).

Plus, the ingredient list for the sauce is pretty simple:

  • Maple syrup
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt!

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Balsamic Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 2

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Ingredients:

  • ~12 Brussels sprouts; halved
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (or enough to coat sprouts to your liking)
  • 1,5 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Wash and cut Brussels sprouts. Coat evenly in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place sprouts on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Halfway through, remove from oven briefly to flip sprouts over.
  • While sprouts are in the oven, combine maple syrup and balsamic vinegar in a pot over medium heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, let it simmer until sprouts have finished baking. Optional: I added in about 1/4 tsp salt to the sauce.
  • Once Brussels sprouts have finished baking (they should be slightly crispy on the outside), coat them evenly with glaze. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

IMG_5773Also, linking up at Peas and Crayons for WIAW! Thanks for hosting, Jenn!

 

Baked Egg in Avocado

It’s funny how things fall right back into their old patterns at home.

At school, I wake up with my to-do list already set. Wake up, eat breakfast, start problem set, class, lunch, more class, practice, dinner, more work, bed. While it is nice having a routine most of the time, I really do welcome the flexibility of being at home. No class to rush off to, no waiting for the bathroom, and best of all- breakfast doesn’t close at 9:45 am!

Of course, I have certain things planned out, such as my workouts and schoolwork which needs to be finished over break. Despite these couple of tasks, I was still able to wake up this morning and finish Love Actually in bed before getting up for breakfast at my leisure. Not a bad way to start off the morning, eh?

Pinterest Success!

Do you like Pinterest? Well, I do. And I’ve pinned about a million recipes, and have probably actually made (and attempted) about 3 of them. Last night I was still a little hungry after dinner, and we had half of an avocado which needed to be used up (never ever let an avocado go to waste. They are sacred! ;) ), and so naturally I turned to Pinterest!

Enter: baked avocado and egg!

bakedeggavoMy mom and I ended up splitting the avocado, and we both loved it! The yolk was still a little runny, but warm, and the egg whites were cooked enough to keep the yolk in place. I wasn’t really sure how much I would like warm avocado, but it ended up being a hit!

If this were served at a restaurant or cafe, I am fairly sure they would make bank selling them. 3 ingredients, protein, and healthy fat?! Talk about simple and healthy!

Baked Egg in Avocado

Serves 1 or 2

Prep time: <5 minutes

Bake time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Cut avocado in half length-wise and remove pit
  • Crack an egg in the centre of each half. It will spill a bit over the sides. If you don’t want it to spill at all, scoop out some of the avocado to create a big enough hole for the egg. (This will take more baking time)
  • Place avocado halves on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Halfway through (about 7 minutes in), scoop up the spilled egg, and replace it on top of the avocado. This step isn’t entirely necessary, but I tried it and it worked just fine.
  • Remove avocados from oven after roughly 15 minutes. The skin of the avocado should be wrinkly but not burnt.
  • Cool for a minute or two, and enjoy!

Workout

Yesterday I was able to sort out training for the rest of the week! Thank goodness, because although I do like the lack of routine at home, I can’t stand not having a workout and training routine. My training yesterday looked like this:

  • 50 minute Sufferfest session with Ken
  • 1.5 hours of squash drills and games

I was beat by the time I got home! So much so that after dinner, I couldn’t even sit and be sociable. I dumped by dishes by the dishwasher, grabbed my computer, and plopped down on the couch to watch Breaking Bad, and eventually drift off to sleep from 9-10 pm. Although this nap was glorious at the time, it did make it much harder to actually fall back asleep around midnight when I finally mustered the energy to move from the couch to my bed. Ah, sounds like winter break!

Well, I’ve just written my homework to-do list for the break, and I think it’s time I actually tackle some of it! Have a great Tuesday!

Questions:

Do you like having a routine? Do you always follow it, or do you ever take breaks?

Do you ever try Pinterest recipes? Do they ever work out according to plan?